Influential Composers Of The Late 20th Century
Composers’ techniques matured throughout the 20th century, as did listeners’ ears.Thus, it becomes progressively harder to pinpoint influential musicians.One must distinguish between those simply continuing the modern tradition, and those truly breaking barriers.
Robert Dick, dubbed “Hendrix of the flute” is one obvious boundary-breaker. (Dick)Born in New York City, Dick’s studies at the School for Music and Art were supplemented by lessons with acclaimed flutists Henry Zlotnik and Julius Baker.He attended Yale, receiving a B.A. in 1971 and a composition Master’s in 1973.
Dick’s most notable contribution to music is his revolution of the flute.He realized the flute’s limited color palette and one-note-at-a-time capability was incompatible with “an environment where the pace of change is accelerating…The flute sound of the future will be yet more powerful and colorful…” (Dick).Inspired by world music, jazz, rock, and electronic music, Dick made accessible the colorful extended technique spectrum: jet whistles, harmonics, throat tuning, multiphonics, whisper tones, circular breathing.Dick did not INVENT all these techniques.(Circular breathing has been a long-established tradition—especially for Bulgarian kaval flutes and Rajasthan’s Narh flutes).But, it is through Dick’s advocacy that these techniques are becoming accepted practice.His tutorial method books have been hailed “the definitive instructor” (Dick).
Circular Breathing for the Flutist provides detailed analysis of the technique, visual aids, and step-by-step instruction that focuses on developing correct embouchure before applying more detailed coordination.After only 6 months of daily 10-15 minute practice, flutists are able to incorporate circular breathing into regular playing.Achieving artistic mastery takes another 2 years. Dick urges flutists, “Don’t let…what you have been taught inhibit your desire to play something.” (Rudduck).
This attitude propelled Dick’s invention of the glissando headjoint.A self-proclaimed Jimi Hendrix fanatic, Dick collaborated with Brannen Brothers Flutemakers to produce a “whammy bar” counterpart for flute.The glissando headjoint (still in final production) is on a mechanism enabling the flute body to slide out and in, producing downward and upward glissandi.Dick’s invention also functions as a regular-pitch headjoint. (mypage.uniserve.ca)
Another native New Yorker, Aaron Copland is also a vastly important musical character.Born in Brooklyn, November 14, 1900, he lived above his family’s Washington Avenue department store for 20 years.
Copland compared his discovery of music to “coming upon an unexpected city…like discovering Paris or Rome if you never before heard of their existence” (http://voodoo)Not until age 12 were Copland’s natural piano skills unearthed.At 17, Copland began dabbling in composition, guided by Manhattan-based mentor, Rubin Goldmark.Eventually, Copland...